July 14, 2010

An Easy Birthday Chocolate Cake With Cocoa Frosting

Another birthday has just gone by and our daughter is one more year older. Sometimes, when we see the self assured girl she has grown into, it seems it wasn’t so long ago that she was a toddler on shaky legs with an endearing two-toothed grin and a single-minded determination for tearing up paper!
I don't usually put personal pictures on this blog, but I just couldn't resist sharing this one of Akshaya with you. That's her, just a year old, at her favourite past-time of tearing up newspaper!

Akshaya, busy at work!

This year, she got to celebrate her birthday thrice!
The first was her traditional birthday. The second one, on the 6th of July which is her date of birth, she celebrated at school with her class and teachers.

Then on the weekend, she invited a few of her friends for a pizza-pasta party. She usually celebrates her birthday at home, but this time she wanted to eat out. So someone else did the cooking while I baked the birthday cake.

Baking Akshaya’s birthday cake is something I’ve been doing since I started to bake regularly. She almost always chooses vanilla, or chocolate, or both as flavours she wants in her cake. Now that kind of choice makes it easier for me but a bit challenging to find a vanilla/ chocolate cake that’s different from the one I baked in the previous years.
I would also want a cake that’s easy to put together given my limited decorating skills, while she wouldn’t want her friends to be the guinea pigs to my baking experiments!

So predictably this year, she wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. She also wanted me to make an eggless no-bake lemon cheesecake as this was also the perfect dessert for a couple of her friends who do not eat eggs.
After some searching I found this old fashioned chocolate cake that looked promising, from the reviews following it. It is eggless and since it uses oil as the fat of choice, is very easily adapted to a vegan cake if required.
What I really liked here was that the frosting requires comparatively much less butter than most frostings and is therefore not so heavy and doesn’t really coat the tongue.

In the past, I have found a few cakes made with oil, while moist, tend to leave a “pasty” feeling on the tongue. In order to avoid this I used butter in my cake. I also added an egg after reading some of the reviews.

I made some more changes. I used milk instead of water, and coffee decoction which I find intensifies the flavour of chocolate and makes chocolate cake much better. I used the chocolate chips since the cake was being made for a group of teenagers. You could leave that out and it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

The original recipe requires 5 cups of powdered sugar for the frosting but I found 3 cups more than enough. I powdered my sugar at home and couldn’t get it as fine as store-bought powdered sugar. You can see that my frosting is slightly grainy because of this. Surprisingly, no one noticed this but you might want to ensure your sugar is fine for a shiny frosting.

This cake doesn’t rise much so it is perfect for layering. I used two cake tins instead of three as that was all I had. So I made a two layered cake. The frosting recipe given below was enough to fill and cover this cake.

My eggless no-bake lemon cheesecake

The cake was a winner (and the no-bake cheesecake was much enjoyed too), and the pizza-pasta party a success. A couple of unexpected surprises including a visit from her Dad (he’s now away from Goa on a new assignment) had Akshaya declaring that this birthday week had been the best ever!

Easy Chocolate Cake With Cocoa Frosting
(adapted from epicurious)

The Chocolate Cake:


3 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

½ cup dark cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt (if using unsalted butter)

1 cup warm milk

1 cup coffee decoction

150gm salted butter, softened at room temperature

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (optional)


In a bowl, stir the butter and warm milk together until the butter melts. Add the coffee decoction and vanilla and stir well.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add the sugar and whisk together to blend.

Mix the dry ingredients into the liquid in the bowl with a wooden spoon, till well blended. Do not over mix.

Divide the batter equally between two 9” greased and floured cake tins. Evenly sprinkle 3/4 cup chocolate chips on each cake tin of batter and bake at 180C (350F) for about 25 to 30 minutes till the cakes are done.
Cool the cakes in their pans for about ten minutes. Remove from the tins and cool both cakes on a rack.

For frosting the cake, use the cocoa frosting recipe below, or one of your choice. Place one cake with the chocolate chip side facing up. Cover the top with frosting and place the other cake with chocolate chip side facing down. Cover the sandwiched cakes with frosting and decorate as desired.

The Cocoa Frosting:


1/2 cup butter, softened at room temperature

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 cup dark cocoa powder

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar (you may need more)

approximately 8 tbsp milk


Whisk together the powdered sugar and cocoa powder till well mixed.

Put the butter and vanilla in a bowl and, using a hand held mixer, beat till it is light and fluffy. Add the cocoa-sugar mixture and beat well. Add about 5 tbsps milk, and beat until the frosting is creamy and fluffy.

If you feel you need more milk or sugar, add the required quantity and beat well. Refrigerate the frosting till the cakes have cooled completely. If the frosting has set, keep it out till it softens and then beat it till smooth, before frosting the cake.

This chocolate cake serves 10 to 12.


sra said...

She looks like you in this picture - my niece looks v much like this now! That choc cake looks so good!

Goldielocks said...

happy birthday!

Simran said...

Belated Happy Birthday to Akshaya! Pizza-pasta party sounds like an ideal teenage fun

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Happy Birthday to Akshaya!! She was adorable! The cake looks good, love how you decorated it. Used Nutties on top?

P.S - Will you be posting the recipe for the cheesecake?

Aparna said...

Thank you, ladies. :)

If she looks like me Sra, then I must be cute? LOL

Avanika, I have posted the cheesecake recipe earlier. The link is on this post.

Ivy said...

My best birthday wishes to your Daughter Aparna.Yes kids grow up very fast and I don't believe that mine is going to University this year!! Awesome chocolate cake and it looks beautiful and very professional!

Divya Vikram said...

Looks so classy and elegant. Wishes to the birthday girl!

Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said...

Aparna, a very happy birthday to your darling daughter. She looks adorable tearing paper. I can sooooo related to that :)

The cake is super yummy !!! I have just started baking, but still want to bake something for my son for his birthday (in Jan, so long way to go) and he will absolutely no doubt choose ONLY vanilla (he called it valina) :)

Memória said...

This cake looks amazing! Your daughter is so lucky to have you haha. Happy birthday to her!!

arundati said...

belated happy birthday to akshaya...one can tell that she had a fascination for the written word very early! she looks adorable in the pic and thank you for sharing the pic with us... cake looks lovely but my mouth was drooling over that cheesecake!

Madhuli said...

The cake looks so delicious..loved the photo..she looks so cute!God Bless her.

Happy Cook said...

Belated b'day wishes to her. She looks so so cute. S did the sam but then with plastic bags which contained buns etc..... agree years go so fast. Here S too have always b'day celebration few times. Love both the cakes especialy the choco one.

suma said...

Birthday wishes to Akshaya!! The cake sure sounds extra delicious with the coffee. Thank God, our kids sometimes just want the birthday to be celebrated in a restaurant, but still allow us the honor of baking the cake:-)) I would be terribly disappointed if I had to 'outsource' the cake part!!

Prathibha said...

My B'day wishes to her..she look so cute in that foto...Lovely cakes for the celebration..

Jayashree said...

A belated happy birthday to Akshaya. Love the cake.

Nags said...

love the presentation!

Dhanya said...

Belated birthday wishes to Akshaya! Cake looks super delicious!

Dhanya said...

Oh....forgot to add, she looks adorable tearing up newspaper....i have a similar picture of my daughter too :):)

jayasri said...

Belated birthday wishes to your cute little daughter she is so cute, felt like pinching her cheeks hahhaha :), well of course, both your cakes are great with lovely presentation.

bhagyashri said...

I am drooling over the cake pics :) Belated wishes to Akshaya, lovely name BTW.

Priya said...

Belate birthday wishes to Akshaya,cake looks awesome and she looks soo cute in that click..

Asha @ FSK said...

Limited decorating skills??? really?? btw, how did you get the swirls on top.. they look really nice!!

Hehe.. does Akshaya know that her baby cuteness is on full display! :) So happy this birthday was so good for her:)

jayasree said...

Belated b'day wishes to Akshaya. Nice to see her old photo. She looks very chubby then.
Glad to know she had the best of everything to celebrate the d-day.
God bless her.

Twinsy Rachel said...

Awesome creation.. a must try.. I have bookmarked it :) Even am curious on how u made the swirls like Asha :) hope u will leave us enlightened :) Happy Bday Akshaya :)

Raaga said...

happy birthday to Akshaya :)

She looks so like you in that baby pic :) And the cake looks so yummy!

PJ said...

Akshaya looks too cute for words :) .Loved the choco cake and was drooling by the time I finished reading ur description!

Sanjeeta kk said...

Lovely and easy cake to bake.

Kitchen Butterfly said...

I love the way you spread the frosting..........and the fact that it is eggless. It looks gorgeous and she does look gorgeous too...with the newspapers!

Junglefrog said...

She is such a sweety! Happy birthday to Akshaya!
That chocolate cake just looks amazing!

Parita said...

Belated bday wishes to Akshaya..she looks so adorable and cute in that pic, god bless her! Chocolate cake looks amazing, love the fact that its eggless!

Natalie... said...

Ooh wow these both look delicious, i bet the lemon cheesecake would be a perfect refreshing treat!

Spice Rack said...

Belated! Chocolate cakes never fails to brighten up any birthdays. I hope you had fun.

Divya Kudua said...

The cake looks so decadent..I am tempted to bake this asap!!Belated birthday wishes to Akshaya!!

lata raja said...

I just saw you were online fb a couple of hours ago and wanted to ask you what was the exact date! then I got to the task of reading pending posts, and there you have this very adorable picture and her cake. The no-bake lemon sounds very delicious while I have no words for the main cake!
Belated birthday wishes akshaya! May you have everything that is the best and wish you all that you dream for come true! have aloads of fun and bring more smiles to those around you!

sendfood said...

Such a gorgeous cake, and wonderful pictures! How I'd love you to make a cake for me!

The Cooking Ninja said...

awww...she's such a cutie! V celebrated her birthday 3x this year too. One with us, one with her friends at home and the last one with her classmates in school. :)

Aparna said...

Akshaya wishes me to thank you all for the lovely wishes you sent her way. Yes, she did have a wonderful birthday.

I know, Ivy. They seem to grow up so fast!

Good luck with the "valina" cake, Priya. My daughter also went through a similar stage when she first started talking and she would interchange syllables so spoon was "poons"! :)

Arundati, I'm just glad that craze gave away to a reading habit. Now she's a regualr book worm! I'm not complaining. :)

Each kid to her own, huh? They grow up too fast, I think sometimes, Finla.

YOu're right, Suma. I also enjoy baking "the" cake. :)

Asha and Rachel, the swirls are not difficult. Just frost the cake and smoothen the top with a cake spatula. Then move the spatula from edge to centre as if drawing an arc, but pressing down on one edge with little more pressure.
That leaves the indentations.
I did this a couple of times before I got it right. You can always smooth the frosting and start again!
Good thing when you have limited cake decorating skills like me. :)

Raaga, I'll tell her that! :)

That's nice, Pamela. She would have a lot of fun.

Priyanka said...

I want to have that cake now...it looks sooooo tempting!!! Moreover, chocolate is my favourite. And I feel the grained texture actually makes it more attractive. I wish I cud make like this!